European shares halted a three-day slide on Wednesday as encouraging Chinese data fueled a rebound in oil and mining stocks, while strong earnings boosted tech shares.
Shares in SAP rose as the world's biggest maker of business software reported estimate-beating results, leading a rally in the tech sector and mirroring strong numbers from chip-maker ARM Holdings on Tuesday.
They were among top risers on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which closed higher. The index had shed 2.8 percent in the previous three sessions, when the corporate newsflow in Europe and the United States had been more negative.
"The volatility we've seen has been primarily micro driven," said Manish Singh, head of investment at Crossbridge Capital. "These selloffs always have the potential to turn around as soon as the next set of positive earnings hit the tape."
Also lifting the market on Wednesday were energy and basic resources stocks after manufacturing data from China signaled a strengthening recovery in the world's top consumer of raw materials and second largest economy.
Meanwhile, the flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) data for the euro zone dropped to the lowest since June 2009. The PMI reading for October fell to 45.8 from 46.1 in September.
PMI composite data for France was also released, showing a rise to 44.8 from 43.2 in September, but for Germany the number fell to 48.1 from 49.2 in September. A number below 50 indicates a contraction in the sector. The weak PMI data led to a sell-off in the euro, which fell against the dollar.
However, Violante di Canossa, vice president of European economics at Credit Suisse said the report showed a stabilization of business sentiment.
"The euro area flash PMIs were generally weaker than expected in October. That said, the composite PMI has proved to be remarkably stable at around 46.0 in the last seven months, a poor level, but considering the euro area woes, a relatively encouraging sign," he said in a research note.
"We think today's most interesting point was the tentative signs of stabilization of German Ifo expectations. The stabilization in the composite PMI and in the latter support our view of a U-shape recovery in the euro area."
Also on Wednesday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi visited the German parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin and reiterated his belief that the ECB bond buying scheme is vital to the euro zone.
Meanwhile, Greece was granted a two-year extension to meet the terms of its international bailout program, according to Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras. Previously, Greece had until the end of 2014 to meet its target.
In the U.K., Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King said on Tuesday evening that the economy will not recover until banks own up to their bad debts and are recapitalized again. In a speech in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, King said that U.K. banks had "insufficient capital" to absorb likely future losses from bad loans. British banks such as Lloyds and RBS traded slightly lower during the session.
Shares in French car maker Peugeot Citroen traded higher after the company released third-quarter sales, with Peugeot also confirming that it had negotiated up to 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) of state support for its finance arm. The stock touched its lowest level since 1986, according to Reuters data.
Sweden-based Volvo reported a big earnings miss in its third quarter; shares were down over 4 percent.
Dutch brewer Heineken also reported third-quarter results on Wednesday which were in line with expectations, but it highlighted increasing weakness in the European market.
British American Tobacco released a trading statement with shares opening slightly down. The tobacco firm highlighted falling demand in areas such as Brazil.
Home Retail Group released results for the first half of 2012 showing a rise in profits, however, the firm is due to close 75 stores over the next five years because of fragile market conditions.
Nordea bank reported slow demand in its third-quarter earnings which missed forecasts; shares were down 3 percent.